Those in professional food photography are well aware of the importance of white balance in their food shots.
White balance has little to do with a plate or table setting; it’s about balancing your colors to create the perfect image. Different types of light have different colors and temperatures. For example, warm, yellow light produces a different temperature and color than cool, blue light. Depending on the light you’re shooting in, you’ll need to adjust your white balance to produce whites that are truly white.
Temperature And Tint
If you’re shooting in light that is warmer, you’ll need to cool it down. If you’re shooting in cool light, you’ll need to warm it up. Though most cameras have preset and auto white balance modes, you’ll likely need to customize the white balance if you’re shooting a subject that features a yellow coloring, such as a Sunnyside up egg dish, or a dish that’s high on the blues. Auto balancing can overcompensate and throw your photo in the opposite direction.
The same can be said about the tint of your photos. Most inexpensive LED and fluorescent light bulbs have a natural green tint that our eyes are unaware of, but our camera picks up on easily. The right white balance adjusts the tint by adding magenta, the opposite of green, to keep your whites balanced and fresh.
Creating Custom White Balance
A custom white balance is essential in professional food photography. Some people might not notice the difference when they see a photo that isn’t customized, but when you have a strong piece such as a stark-white plate in your photo, you’ll want that plate as clean and bright as possible.
• Take a piece of white paper and place it exactly where your subject will be, ensuring that the lighting hits it the same way.
• Set your camera to Custom White Balance.
• Snap a shot of the paper, filling the frame, with the light meter set at 0.
• Go to the menu on the camera and find the white balance settings. Choose the picture of the paper as the reference point for the camera.
That’s it. Now your yellows, blues, and greens won’t overpower your whites. You’ll be able to produce shots of professional food photography that look good enough to eat.